This week I highlight the Education and Adoption Bill passing through Parliament and its impact on coasting or failing schools, the DfE’s initiatives to improve children and young people’s mental health and the launch of an initiative to encourage more reading of literature in secondary schools.
EDUCATION AND ADOPTION BILL PASSED THROUGH PARLIAMENT
The Education and Adoption Bill completed its passage through Parliament on Tuesday evening and included new measures that allow swifter intervention where a school is coasting or failing. Inevitably we will see more schools become academies and key clauses in the Bill include:
- Coasting schools, as labelled by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), will be eligible for intervention. The definition of a coasting school has not yet been finalised and will be part of a second piece of legislation subject to MPs’ vote.
- New powers are given to RSCs to issue schools with a performance, standards or safety warning notice. The RSC issuing the notice will also have the power to decide how much time the school is allowed to respond and improve.
- The academy conversion for Inadequate schools must be ordered by the Education Secretary. They can also make academy orders for schools deemed to be coasting, but this is not a mandatory duty.
- Consultation is no longer required for forced academisations.
- LAs and Governors are now required to co-operated in the event of forced academisation.
- Education Secretaries will be given powers to set the actions Governors will be required to take in forced academy takeover, and impose deadlines.
- Education Secretaries can also revoke an academy order if other means of improvement or closure are deemed a better option.
- Academy trusts and chains taking over maintained schools are responsible for communicating their improvement plans to parents. This does not mean they will be consulted on the changes.
- Academy funding agreements must include a provision which allows education secretaries to end agreements for coasting academies.
In the next and final step, the Education and Adoption Bill will be taken to Her Majesty the Queen for royal assent. This will turn the bill into an act of Parliament and its measures will come into force as soon as possible.
IMPROVING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S MENTAL HEALTH
The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking views on the most effective support methods to help improve the mental health of children and young people. The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has announced a £1.5 million fund driven by young people to help them develop support networks and talk about mental health, with online advice and workshops to help set them up.
The DfE has also updated its counselling guidance, which provides practical, evidence-based advice, informed by experts on how to make sure school counselling works for children and young people.
LAUNCH OF 100 CLASSIC BOOKS IN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
One hundred titles are being offered as part of a new initiative from Penguin Classics, following a call for action by Schools Minister Nick Gibb to ensure there is more classic literature being taught in schools. The 100 titles – taken from Penguin’s Black Classics series – range from the earliest writings to early 20th century works, span fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, and are intended to offer a springboard for children to discover the classics. All the titles are by authors who died before 1946 and are therefore out of copyright.
Penguin is offering Secondary schools classroom sets of 30 copies of each of the 100 titles for a package price of £3,000, allowing pupils to read along with their teacher and classmates. The offer will run between March and June 2016 for delivery in time for the new school term in September 2016. Schools can register for further information at: edu.penguinclassics.co.uk
This week I look at the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the Government’s response to the House of Commons Education Committee report ‘Life Lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools’.
INFORMATION ON THE ENGLISH BACCALAUREATE (EBACC)
Today the Department for Education published information on the Government’s policy on the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The EBacc is a school performance measure which allows people to see how many pupils get a grade C or above in the core academic subjects at Key Stage 4.
The measure was introduced in 2010 and all pupils who started Year 7 in September 2015 (this academic year) will take the EBacc subjects when they reach their GCSEs in 2020. The EBacc is made up of:
- History or Geography
- the sciences
- a language
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE: LIFE LESSONS: PSHE AND SRE IN SCHOOLS
A year ago the Education Select Committee published a report which recommended that Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) should be introduced as a statutory subject in primary and secondary schools.
On Tuesday the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, responded to the Chair of the Select Committee advising that the Government would not be making PSHE a statutory subject. The Government’s response to the Report’s recommendations has been published and Nicky Morgan has stated that over the next few months her Department will produce an action plan and recommendations for improving PSHE, including publishing a comprehensive PSHE toolkit for schools through the Sutton Trust/EEF.
This week I look at the changing education landscape with the academies programme and multi-academy trusts, the use of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Teaching and Learning Toolkit in shaping decisions on the use of Pupil Premium funding and the next round of an international reading study of 10 year olds.
EDUCATION SECRETARY: ALL SCHOOLS TO BECOME ACADEMIES
As we are all aware the education landscape is changing with the Government’s drive for more academies and collaboration and partnerships between schools. This was evidenced yesterday when the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, spoke at the Leicestershire Academies Spring Conference and the transcript of her speech makes for very interesting reading.
The Education Secretary stated that the academies programme was expected to grow and expand until all schools became academies. She talked about improving the education system through school-to-school support with the most sustainable, accountable and efficient way to achieve this being through multi-academy trusts. She also highlighted the importance of school governors because of the skill, expertise and wisdom they brought to running schools.
MAKING USE OF THE SUTTON TRUST-EEF TEACHING AND LEARNING TOOLKIT
In November last year I highlighted the publication of a research report commissioned by the DfE regarding the performance gap between pupils from more and less advantaged backgrounds in England. The report highlighted the work of The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), an independent grant-making charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. As some of you might already be aware the EEF in conjunction with the Sutton Trust has developed a Teaching and Learning Toolkit which provides guidance for teachers and schools on how best to use their resources to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. The Toolkit covers 34 topics, each summarised in terms of their average impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence supporting them and their cost.
When you are discussing the use of Pupil Premium funding and its impact in your Governing body meetings do you know if your school is aware of or using the Toolkit and could this be helpful?
SCHOOLS TAKING PART IN THE PROGRESS IN INTERNATIONAL READING LITERACY STUDY 2016
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measures the reading ability of 10-year-olds, which can then be compared with other countries. The study is run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) on a 5-yearly cycle. A randomised sample of 170 schools from across England have been selected to take part in the next round of the study taking place between May and June, with the results published in 2017.